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Sample Course Descriptions

A stone slab with various languages etched into it

An Introduction to Theology

This course offers an introduction to the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the history of Christianity, and the way these texts and traditions challenge, and are challenged by, the contemporary world.  The aims of this course are achieved in a variety of ways, depending on the Loyola faculty member teaching the course and on their area of specialization.  Thus, students can expect anything from a deep dive into the biblical prophets or the distinctiveness of Jesuit spirituality, to a critical engagement with contemporary issues of race, class, and gender. 

Jewish and Christian Scriptures

Prophets and Peacemakers

The Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) contains stories about prophets as well as texts attributed to these prophets. This course examines both. In addition, students study prophetic activity from a sociological/cross-cultural perspective, examine New Testament reinterpretations of prophetic texts, and explore the possibility of modern prophets and modern applications of ancient prophetic texts.

Food, Hunger, and the Bible

This course investigates issues related to food and hunger in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament texts, the ways in which these biblical concepts inform a Christian theology and spirituality of food, and how these biblical concepts relate to modern ethical and social justice issues including: poverty, hunger, and food access; food production; ethical labor practices in agricultural and food industries; sustainability; ethical treatment of animals; community and hospitality, etc. Students investigate biblical principles and apply them to current issues—both local and global. 

The History of Christianity 

Women and Christianity

This course examines the contributions of women to the Christian tradition, as well as questions addressed by their presence through the use of primary texts and monographs. Writings include Augustine’s letters to women and such topics as the role of widows in the early church and medieval reformers and abbesses. The modern era includes women evangelicals, questions raised by some contemporary feminists, and women and religion in America. 
Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits

From the religious conversion of Saint Ignatius Loyola in Renaissance Spain to the state of the Jesuit order in contemporary America, this course endeavors to clarify and interpret the intellectual, spiritual, and pedagogical vision of Ignatius and his followers. The survey includes an examination of the Spiritual Exercises; a study of the evolution of the Society’s structure and mission from the first Jesuits to the present; analyses of diverse Jesuit writings over the centuries; a survey of the dazzling triumphs and nefarious intrigues imputed to the Society, and an overview of sundry ‘jesuitical’ observations on issues facing Catholics at the end of the twentieth century. 

The Catholic Church in the United States

This course examines the relationship between the Catholic Church and American culture from the Colonial Era to the present. Special attention is devoted to Catholic attitudes toward independence and the Revolutionary War; the trusteeship controversy; nativism; post-Civil War movements; American imperialism and neutrality prior to United States entrance into World War I; positions on foreign affairs, e.g., the Spanish Civil War, Fascism, and World War II; domestic background of the Second Vatican Council and ecumenism.


Who is Jesus?

This course explores the identity of Jesus Christ, as expressed in Scripture, the doctrine and tradition of the Church, as well as in art and literature. The course examines the historical context of Jesus’ life, the variety of ways in which the significance of that life has been articulated over the centuries, and the ways in which one might discern faithful from unfaithful articulations. 

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Forgiveness and reconciliation are central to a Christian understanding of God and to Christian life. Several different dimensions of forgive¬ness and reconciliation are explored, including how forgiveness of sin is related to Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection; and what forgiveness and reconcil¬iation entail in liturgical and communal contexts. Some moral and political issues are also considered; e.g., the relationships between forgiveness and accountability and forgiveness and memory. Readings are drawn from both theological and nontheological sources. 

Heaven and Hell

Are heaven and hell real or merely symbolic? What is the ultimate fulfillment of heaven, and how is it related to fulfillment here and now? What is the eternal loss and misery of hell, and how is it compatible with God’s infinite mercy? The course analyzes human destiny in light of our own task of character formation. Special atten¬tion is paid to creation and original sin, the offer of salvation, the interplay of grace and freedom. The course also treats Church teaching on purgatory, as well as theo¬logical speculations about “limbo.” 

Theology and Culture 

Christian Theology and World Religions

This course examines both contemporary and historical theological issues concerning the relationships between Christianity and other religious traditions. This course generally includes a focus on at least one other religious tradition.

Theology and Literature

A study of major themes in Christian theology which juxtaposes works of modern fiction and poetry with theological writing. 

Theology and Art

What is beauty? What does it mean to be a beautiful person? Can there be an image of a beautiful God? What does the vision of the crucified Christ mean for our conceptions of what beauty is? These and other questions are examined through study of both written discussions of beauty and art and artistic objects in the Christian tradition. Texts include writings on beauty from Saint Augustine and medieval authors; writings from the iconoclastic controversy; writings concerning the Christian appropriation of non-Christian images; and John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. Includes museum visits.
Faith and Film in the American Cinema

Frank Capra, one of the truly great directors of cinema’s first century, left us this testimony from the artist’s viewpoint to the consequences of film’s power: “Only the morally courageous are worthy of speaking to their fellow men for two hours in the dark. And only the artistically incorrupt will earn and keep the people’s trust.” The twofold purpose of this course is to analyze the meaning of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith and to explore the American cinema’s capacity to convey those truths.


Peace Ethics

This course concentrates on the theological roots of religious efforts to contribute to peace between and within individuals, nations, and religions. The course surveys the three most important models for thinking about conflict—holy war, just war, and pacifism, in the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It also analyzes the contribution of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, along with other contemporary peace initiatives and their theological backgrounds. 

Christian Environmental Ethics

How are human beings to value non-human creation? Possible answers are considered to this question by drawing on both Christian theological/ethical sources and contemporary environmental science. The focus is especially on: 1) how to construct an environtmental ethic in light of the constant flux of nature; 2) the relationship between ecological justice and social justice; and 3) the relationship between the global economy and the biosphere.